Federal mediators have been called to schedule new talks between Boeing and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.
The call for mediation comes as union members split their votes with the Professional Unit accepting Boeing’s latest offer, while the Technical Unit rejected the company’s offer and authorized strike action.
While engineers and technical workers bargain at the same time, the contracts are separate and independent agreements. With engineers accepting Boeing’s offer, the 15,550 employees in SPEEA Professional Unit are in position to provide inside support to technical workers if Boeing forces a strike.
In a statement, Boeing said its negotiaions team are pleased that the engineers approved their contract. However, the company is deeply disappointed that technical employees rejected the company’s best-and-final offer and authorized a strike.
“Our goal throughout this entire process was to make sure SPEEA-represented employees were rewarded for the contributions they bring to this company every single day,” said Ray Conner, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We believe this offer leads the market in every way.
“The realities of the market require us to make changes so we can invest in new products and keep winning in this competitive environment, which will allow us to continue to provide a solid future for our team,” he said. “That’s why our proposal to move future hires to an enhanced 401(k)-style retirement plan is so important, as we have repeatedly emphasized over the course of these negotiations,” said Conner. “Now more than ever is the time to move forward together.”
Meeting Feb. 20, the unions Technical Negotiation Team is discussing the next steps in the negotiation process. Those steps include a telephone survey to determine members’ priorities for the next phase of negotiations. The survey will be announced and launched in the next few days.
A strike by the technical workers is not imminent, but Bill Dugovich of the SPEEA says the negotiating team is now authorized to call one. Engineers and technical workers work on plans for planes and solve problems that arise on the factory floor.
SPEEA last went on strike for 40 days in 2000.